I have to admit that from my time playing with Google+ this past week it’s beginning to seem to me that it’s less of a social network and more of an anti-social network, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This newest social network is simply not designed for the mass-sharing and spreading of information, it is designed for the opposite: the precise and controlled flow of information to only the people you want. Quite honestly I don’t currently see Google+ offering you, the fashion blogger, any direct benefits for the growth and expansion of your blog that are not already offered by sites like Facebook and Twitter where you’ve invested countless hours connecting with new friends and readers. That being said, G+ absolutely has strengths unique to its localized capabilities.
I HAVE NO FRIENDS!
My biggest issue with Google+ right now is that, being in one of Google’s infamous Beta periods, it’s essentially a closed system. It’s going to be awhile before our non-social media enthusiast friends find their way here. But that might just be a good thing. G+’s ability to sort your contacts into “Circles,” small groups organized around criteria of your choosing, means that you can direct conversation only to people you really want to. Where Facebook and Twitter are by design either totally global or totally private, G+ allows you to create local communities around your interests and then use those communities to generate real conversations.
TOP DOWN DESIGN
You can read an excellent article by tech-blogger Marshall Kirkpatrick about this issue here. Google+ will never replace your blog (or even your Twitter for that matter) because, despite its ability to do long-form posts and save them to your stream, you have no control over what posts to save in a sidebar, what your G+ profile looks like, over anything really, other than your content. What makes a blog so special is that you have control over everything: you create a world of your own and invite people to come into it for a little while and spend some time there, getting to know you and your interests. On G+ you have no control over your brand, Google essentially controls it for you. So be wary and don’t start throwing all of your eggs into this one basket.
ON THE PLUS SIDE
There are some pros to Google+, although right now they seem more like potential pros than a real concrete reason to join the network.
Share: unlike Facebook G+ gives you the ability to share not just links, but posts of any sort. It seems to me that this is much closer to real conversation, to the real sharing of ideas, than only being able to comment on others’ posts. With this function, essentially a large-format Retweet, it allows you to see people’s opinions that they’ve previously shared only with their circles, give your own take on it, then share that new synthesis of opinions with your own circles. Like I said, I don’t have a ton of friends on G+ yet, but this function seems extraordinarily powerful to me, you can pretty literally watch the evolution and spread of an idea in real time.
Hangouts: Like G+’s Share function, Hangouts allow true conversation amongst a group of people in real time. This is not just a phone call on Skype or FaceTime, it is the chance for people to come together and have a dialogue as a group, a conference call with infinitely greater potential. I can see the potential here for there being the birth of real Webinars or totally online and interactive workshops. Imagine if a fashion blogger had a question about building a better blog: now they don’t just have to read other blog’s tips or email people they know for advice. You can now get ten fashion bloggers into one room at anytime and from anywhere to share ideas and opinions and beliefs about how to be a better blogger.
And it is here that G+’s strength lies: its ability not to generate more “Likes” or “Fans,” but to generate true, meaningful, and productive conversations with the people that matter the most to you.